The Carroll School Board has called a public hearing on the 2011-2012 proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 29 in the library of the former Carroll Middle School, 1101 East Dove Road.
Trustees have held several budget workshops this summer trying to analyze how changes to the state funding system will affect Carroll Independent School District. After release of the state’s fourth template, CISD is expected to lose more than $9 million in state funding over the biennium.
Trustees spent time Monday discussing ways to minimize a $4.5 million deficit projected in the coming year. The district may utilize $1.9 million in Build America Bond subsidies, as well as $2 million from a State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) grant to offset the deficit. The Board asked the Administration to then manage through the additional $622,732 deficit.
This is the second year the CISD budget has not included a general pay increase for employees, though classroom teachers and some certified positions did receive a step increase mandated by the state last year. Trustees who are concerned about rewarding and retaining quality personnel must also weigh those concerns against state funding losses and fund balance requirements.
The Board discussed Monday trying to help offset rising employee health insurance costs with a one-time supplemental payment to CISD staff. A possible source for this funding could be an Oncor energy rebate CISD received after installing solar energy panels on its newest middle school. No final decisions have been made, but Trustees are working diligently to reduce expenditures, maximize revenues and minimize the reliance on fund balance to cover future deficits.
In 2009, the Administration implemented an Expenditure Reduction Plan designed to educate employees and the taxpayers about the Texas school funding crisis. During that process, employees helped identify ways to cut the budget and increase revenue sources. As a result, the Administration cut $1.1 million in annual operating expenses. Lower student enrollment resulted in the loss of 13.5 teaching positions for an additional $775,000 drop in annual operating expenses. The position cuts were made through resignations, retirements and reassignments.
CISD Trustees then asked the Administration to prioritize the remaining expenditure reduction ideas and survey parents and taxpayers about their thoughts. Results of that survey are available on the district’s website by clicking on the Expenditure Reduction icon. Trustees have ultimately tried to avoid personnel or program cuts that would affect students’ services.
Some of the ideas still being discussed include a transportation fee that could be applied to all CISD bus riders to help offset the district’s $2 million transportation budget. CISD receives no state funding for transportation services and some Trustees have indicated they would rather give parents an opportunity to pay more for this service than to cut routes like some districts have had to do. Legislation passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature would make a transportation fee for all riders possible, but due to the timing, Trustees say it will likely be next year before such a measure could be implemented.
Other expenditure reduction and/or revenue enhancement ideas on the table include a student participation fee, changes to block scheduling and teaming, a shift of the fiscal year (one-time savings) and the sale of surplus CISD property. The district’s overall goal is to balance the budget using a 2-5 year plan.
By law, the School Board must adopt a budget by the end of August and a tax rate by mid-September. The proposed $80 million operating budget is based on the same tax rate as 2010-2011. At the hearing, the Administration will present the proposed budget and members of the audience will have an opportunity to make Public Comments. The Board will then vote on the proposed budget. A complete August 29 Board meeting agenda will be posted 72 hours in advance.